More Tokyo

Today I went on the bike to the Shinjuku Gardens, Imperial Palace, Ginza, Hama-rikyu Gardens and the Tokyo Dome (by mistake).
Inside the Shijuku Garden there is an active temple where people go to pray and to leave wishes on a tree… very interesting place and energy in it.

The Imperial Palace is truly impressive in terms of size. It is surrounded by a water filled ditch and beautiful gardens that are tended to daily. Didn’t actually go inside since I am going to Kyoto and I was told I will see some even nicer places + you don’t really see the entire palace inside – only the gardens.

After that I headed towards the Hama-rikyu Gardens but stopped in Ginza. Took a look at the “famous” Sony building and ate some lunch (Tomkatsu again – delicious). This is Tokyo’s 5th Ave – all the major shops are here – could not find the Prada store – well, OK, didn’t look for it that hard 🙂

On the bike again, I took a look at a map on the streets and decided to in one direction according to that map. I kept going confidently and saw an amusement park! Great! I am going to stop here. I must be close to the ocean, and close to the Hama-rikyu Gardens because I remember seeing that big ferris wheel on the way in from the airport. In any case, went in and hopped on to the roller coaster ride – truly amazing ride – very steep, fast, and curvy… all that for a bargain of USD10 🙁

On the way out I saw some street names, pulled out the map to try to get my bearings… nothing… could not find the name. Showed the map to the girl at the information desk and to my amazement her finger kept running farther and farther North… I had gone in the complete opposite direction I thought I was going. I was astonished at my sense of direction here… it usually is very good. I looked at one of those maps on the street again now to realize why I was so off… the maps are not oriented North-South… the are oriented with respect to your view at that moment… North was on the left part of the map!! Another factor is that the sun was not out so I had no idea what way was East and West.
Finally I reached the gardens after a great ride along with some other messengers – there are quite a few of them here – all with very trendy looking bikes. The garden was worth the search… very beautiful and peaceful… which made me realize that Tokyo is a very quiet city… very little honking, people speak softly (except for when you arrive at a restaurant – they announce that there is a new customer). Everyone is very polite – everything is very clean – he attention to the details reflects their gentle and delicate manners.

Ah! There is absolutely no smoking on the streets (there are designated smoking corners where people gather around to get their fix) – but getting around is a little tricky if it is not close to a train/subway station since there are not many street names on the streets themselves and on the maps. Kind of strange… it seems like it is all done by referencing buildings and stores.